Monday, December 20, 2010

Remembering Daniel Leek

By Christine Girard, ND
AANP 2010 Physician of the Year

Daniel Leek, SCNM second year medical student. Photo courtesy of SCNM.
The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine mourns the loss of Daniel Leek, a second year medical student, in a tragic car crash that occurred Thanksgiving morning.

Dan grew up in Rockford, IL, and attended Southern Illinois University – Carbondale where he received three Bachelor’s of Arts Degrees: in psychology, physiology and biochemistry. He started his professional life as a senior research associate at the University of Chicago, conducting research in muscle physiology and molecular biology.

Dan started SCNM in the fall 2008 and made an immediate impression with his exuberance for experiential learning and his passion for research. Dan worked closely with Drs. Langland and Waters on research projects both at SCNM and at the ASU Biodesign Institute. He is an author on a recently submitted article, “Quantitative evaluation of the broad-spectrum anti-microbial activity of colloidal silver.”

In August 2010, Dan had the opportunity to speak before researchers and clinicians at the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians conference. He presented “The Regulation of Inflammatory Gene Expression by Immunostimulatory Botanicals” – and won the student research award which was presented at the formal awards ceremony that concludes the conference. He also presented research findings at the September 2010 SCNM Board of Trustees meeting – and wowed the Board members. Dr. Schwalm, the president of the Board, when informed of Dan’s passing extended his and the Board’s deepest sympathies for the loss our community has sustained.

Dan’s ultimate goal was to pursue a career in research, through an NIH post-doctoral fellowship, to expand knowledge in the area of naturopathic medicine.

Those who knew Dan, knew that he was a spiritual guy – and a guy with a big brain for big teachings whether the Bible, the Upanishads, Ram Dass, or quantum mechanics. Many of the stories about Dan involve hours-long conversations. He loved to talk about where we might go with a topic, be it spiritual or scientific.

Dan paraphrased Ram Dass by saying, “Moments of suffering in life are the fuel for bliss if interpreted spiritually.” Dan would want everyone to remember that.

Dan is well respected and well loved. He remains with us as an integral part of the fabric of the SCNM community. Memory Eternal!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Year in Review

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

The AANP turns the page on another year. Image by andy.brandon50 via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
As we approach the final days of 2010, I find myself in a reflective frame of mind, looking back at the past year as well as ahead to 2011 with hope and anticipation. Personally this represents my halfway point as AANP President. It’s been an active, exciting and challenging journey so far, and my suspicions have been confirmed that being in this position in the AANP is an opportunity for growth. I think all of my fellow officers and Board members past and present would agree.

The Board and Staff have just completed the work and budget planning for the next two-year cycle and it has made me think about the present state of the AANP and naturopathic medicine.

The AANP is in a very good place. Unlike many associations struggling in these economic times and tapping into their reserves to continue to function, the AANP ended the year with a balanced budget. We are living within our means, in no small part due to the vigilance and management of our executive director, Karen Howard. The AANP is fully staffed as we close out the year, having hired a new marketing and membership associate (Mandisa Jones) and state government relations director (Eugene McGill). In the coming year you will see more resources dedicated to state licensing, inclusion in the federal healthcare system, and benefits to support our membership, among other things.

The AANP Board continues to grow and evolve. This month we say “au revoir” to our departing board members Lise Alschuler, Michelle Clark, Bill Benda, Tabatha Parker and Sara Thyr. We thank you for your service and dedication to the naturopathic profession and wish you much success and happiness as you move on to other opportunities and challenges. On January 1, 2011, we are welcoming Holly Lucille, Joe Pizzorno, Carrie Runde, Keri Marshall and Cindy Breed to the Board as they begin their two-year terms. We are very excited to welcome these new members who bring a wealth of experience and willingness to serve the association and profession. Michael Cronin begins his term as President-Elect in 2011 and is taking on a greater leadership role within the Board as he prepares for his presidency.

As a profession, I believe that naturopathic medicine is in a better position to “take off” and serve more people than perhaps it has ever been. More states are on the cusp of licensure and, with the help of Gene McGill, I hope to see new licensed states soon. We are making inroads on Capitol Hill as Congress and regulatory agencies begin to implement healthcare reform, and I look forward to seeing ND inclusion in federal programs including loan repayment opportunities. Our DC FLI event in May is growing every year and we are now known in D.C.

As I write this it appears that CNME will be re-accredited by the US Department of Education for the next 5 years, the longest time allowed under the rules. Enrollment in the naturopathic medical schools is growing with plans for new schools in the next few years, and more NDs are graduating and bringing naturopathic medicine into their communities. Science and research opportunities are increasing with new NIH grants awarded to ND researchers, and the founding of Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI), led by Carlo Calabrese, which will focus on developing studies to examine whole-practice naturopathic care. The Naturopathic Post-Graduate Association (NPGA) is up and running, coordinating residency opportunities amongst the colleges to increase the number of residencies offered and matching residency sites with candidates to improve the residency experience.

Our state naturopathic associations are becoming more sophisticated and active, developing marketing as well as continuing education programs to serve their membership. Better communication and coordination between AANP and state associations is occurring. Rick Marinelli, ND, was recently appointed to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee on advancing pain research, care and education, the first ND on any IOM committee.

So 2010 has been a good year for naturopathic medicine and the future looks bright. We have much to be thankful for as we take stock of 2010 and look forward to 2011 and beyond. As always, it comes down to the people who make things happen and the relationships we form—with each other, our patients, other like-minded groups and organizations, our local, state and federal representatives, and so forth.

YOU are the AANP; YOU are the profession. Everything the AANP does is filtered through the question: How does this serve our membership? As 2010 comes to a close, I want to thank everyone reading this for all you do, great and small, as every step moves us that much closer to realizing our dreams and goals for our profession and for the health and vitality of the communities in which we serve.

Have a joyous holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2011.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The End of the Innocence

By Bill Benda, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

Photo by tibchris via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
Yes, the time has come. After four captivating (and at times interminable) years, the “let’s let an MD on the Board” experiment has come to its predetermined end and the data has been analyzed. The following is my technical report:

It was very interesting.

It was interesting to learn that our commonality was actually based more upon similarities in personality and style then clinical expertise or professional ideology. Idealistic, aggressive, principled, paranoid, outspoken, insecure, clear on others’ shortcomings but in denial of our own, tilting at windmills to save the world – naturopathic medicine has been more a mirror of my own life than anything allopathic medicine has had to offer in 35 years of practice.

It was interesting to discover that our future lies in fact upon the shoulders of our students, and not in the posturing and proclamations of those who claim to really, really know what is best for us.

It was interesting to feel the buffeting between the forces of science and intuition, observing the quick footwork as “evidence-based medicine” shuffles to keep up with the fact that evidence constantly changes with the analytical tides, while intuition remains an immovable constant that no academic text or research submission can ever hope to emulate.

It was interesting to experience the unceasing anger and derision directed at my own professional heritage, allopathic medicine, partly deserved in your struggle for equity, and partly an old story somehow needing to be retold within every conference hall or blog conversation.

It was interesting to feel like a father at a birth, not really allowed to get my hands into the actual delivery, but still knowing I had something to do with the blessed event, even now as I cut the cord.

It was actually far more than simply interesting – it was exhilarating, and painful, and fulfilling, and empty, and all the things we feel when we really do commit to a relationship knowing full well that it will someday come to an end. But of course I cannot hope to write of these things and expect they will be allowed in print, so I will leave this at goodbye.

So goodbye, dear naturopaths – I leave you in mostly good hands, grateful for the time that I have had with you, and how my life is the better for it. Goodbye to my fellow board members past and present – hopefully you have grown as I have, but with a fraction of the irascibility and frustration. Goodbye to Karen and David and Jan and all who have dedicated your emotional lives to this profession – you can still call on me to be your hit man from time to time if you find you just can’t pull the trigger yourselves.

Goodbye. Another adventure awaits . . .

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chanukah Fish Fry 2010

By Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO

Photo by rizkapb via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
We celebrate the Chanukah miracle early this year; the first candle is lit on Wednesday night, December 1. No doubt some of my readers will point out that this is not early as Chanukah always falls on the 24th day of Kislev.

The miracle to which we refer involves Jewish forces led by Judah Macabee who defeated Syrian oppressors more than 2300 years ago and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem. The "miracle" occurred when a quantity of oil that would normally have kept the sacred lamps lit for one day lasted a full eight days, enough time for additional oil to be made. This holiday has become something of a celebration of oil; by tradition we eat fried foods for our holiday meals, the staple being latkes, fried potato pancakes. In recent years I have wondered whether there could be alternatives to this staple. Admittedly, some of our guests last year found the Chanukah chili rellenos on our menu something of a stretch.

Still, I haven’t given up looking for alternatives and this year will promote fish and chips as Chanukah food. Not only will this meal amply meet the oil consumption requirement, but fish and chips, though many people don’t realize it, is absolutely traditional Jewish food.

Some people mistakenly think of fish and chips as British food. After all, there are over 10,500 fish and chip shops in frying away over in England, though this is a significant drop from the record high of 35,000 shops in operation during the 1920s.

But where did the British learn to fry fish? They learned from Jewish immigrants, of course.

Fried fish in batter originated with the Portuguese Marranos. These Sephardic Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition, first to Holland and later to London. They brought their talent for deep frying fish with them to London in the early 1500s. Manuel Brudo, writing in 1544, described how the Marrano refugees fried fish, first sprinkling it with flour and then dipping it in eggs and bread crumbs. Lady Judith Montefiore, the anonymous editor of the first Jewish cook book in English (The Jewish Manual: or Practical Information in Jewish & Modern Cookery; with a Collection of Valuable Recipes and Hints Relating to the Toilette, edited by a Lady, which was published in1846) called for “Florence oil” in her recipe, obviously referring to olive oil.

Thomas Jefferson, before he became president, wrote home from London in the early 1800s of eating a meal of "fried fish in the Jewish fashion" and brought the recipe home to Monticello. This Jewish fish recipe appears in a collection of Jefferson’s favorite recipes put together by his daughter Virginia.

Jews were also the first to serve both fish and chips together. A 13-year-old Jewish boy named Joseph Malin began selling fish with chips together in 1860 in the East End of London. He fried the potatoes in his family’s basement, bought the fried fish from a shop and sold the combo from a tray he carried on the streets.

As no one disputes the basic contention that fried fish was first sold in London as Jewish food, there should be no argument that it is a suitable choice for a Chanukah meal.

All of this discussion of course is but a prelude or an excuse for me to review some recent research about the health benefits of fish and olive oil.

Although in recent years fried foods have become symbolic of fast food and assumed to be unhealthy, let us take a more generous view of fish and chips and rationalize that this meal will bring us a step closer to a Mediterranean diet.

Research studies tell us that following a Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.

This past November 2010, an interesting analysis of the health benefits of following the Mediterranean diet was published. Francesco Sofi and colleagues from the University of Florence, Italy combined data from 19 earlier studies on the effects the Mediterranean diet has on major diseases and mortality. This created a data pool of 2,190,627 subjects. The diet of each subject was graded. The closer their diet adhered to the classic Mediterranean diet, the higher their point score. The further from it, the lower the score. Possible scores ranged from 0 to 9.

Sofi’s analysis found that even a 2-point increase in score produced statistically significant health benefit. For every 2-point increase, a subject had a 13% decreased risk for getting Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, a 6% decreased risk of getting or dying of cancer and a 9% decreased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. Each 2-point increase was also associated with an 8% decrease in risk of dying during the study from any cause.

Simple rules to the Mediterranean Diet:

1. Eat abundant amounts of plant foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds).
2. Eat concentrated sugars only on rare occasions.
4. Use olive oil as your principal source of fat.
5. Eat dairy products (mainly cheese and yoghurt) only occasionally
6. Eat red meat and poultry rarely and then in small amounts. Eat 4 eggs or less a week.
7. Eat fish frequently.
8. Drink wine in low to moderate amounts, generally with meals.

All this being said, please don’t get me wrong, fried foods may not be totally good for you. Each year when I send out holiday recipes I receive return emails from people who are outraged that I’ve suggested such horrible ingredients. The cream of mushroom soup recipe found in a 2007 article on mushrooms and breast cancer probably wins the prize for provoking outrage. Though as I think about it the chille rellenos were a close second.

In fact, thinking about this, I won’t include a recipe this year. Nevertheless, let me wish you all a happy holiday season.

Jacob Schor, N.D., FABNO, majored in Food Science and Product Development as an undergraduate at Cornell University, and received his doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine at National College in Portland, Oregon in 1991. He served as President of the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians from 1992-1999. He is currently president of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians ( He maintains a private practice at the Denver Naturopathic Clinic. Other essays by Dr. Schor can be found at

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reflections from the Board of Directors

By Sara Thyr, ND

Bastyr University. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.
I was in Seattle in November for my last meeting with the Board of Directors of the AANP. It was an unusual mix of emotion for me. I have felt ready to be free of the substantial time commitment for some time now, but felt the melancholy creep in well before the end of the meeting.

The largest change in the years that I have been on the Board is moving from a reactionary board to a visioning board. Rather than putting out fires and throwing money at the crisis du jour, we are looking into the future and planning in a way that can only benefit the growth of our profession.

All of the governance documents are available for your perusal on the AANP website (you must be logged-in to view). If you haven’t already seen what we’ve been up to for the last few years, it will be worth your time to take a look. Your voice and involvement in your national association makes it all work. It should be evident from the ends and measures that we have set forth that we do this work for everyone in the profession (actually, everyone in need of healthcare in our country).

Looking at the future and where the Board sees the profession down the road is quite exciting. Everyone in the United States will know what a naturopathic physician is and have the opportunity to utilize naturopathic medicine for their healthcare. Can you see it?

I went to school at Bastyr University and graduated over 10 years ago. Being back on campus and seeing how it has grown in the years I have been gone was incredible. We stayed in the “village” – the LEED-platinum certified dorms on campus. They are beautifully designed and a much-needed advancement over previous dorm life. The herb garden has emerged to be a fixture on campus that is quite a bit more than the little circle of plants that was started when I was there. The students have more tools to study anatomy and other topics. Even though we were just there on a weekend, it was evident that much has improved. And with that growth and change will come great leaders in the profession. Not only do we have a student Board member, but we also had the President of the NMSA (Naturopathic Medical Students Association) present. With their input we can move towards better tools for graduates and our profession. The AANP Board will continue to grow, visioning and leading the profession with the best, most adapted tools that we and our staff can conjure.

The level of reporting on processes, the work plan, the budget and how well we are meeting our goals has substantially improved with changes and additions to the AANP staff over the years. The involvement in state licensing has increased and the connections for all legislative efforts have improved since my earliest days on the Board, largely thanks to the work of Executive Director Karen Howard, lobbyist Jan Lipson, outgoing Board member Michelle Clark, and now, our new legislative liaison, Gene McGill. Let’s not forget the countless volunteers in every state who work exceptionally long hours in order to make it all happen and improve our profession.

What will I miss the most about the being on the AANP Board? Well, I have had the great pleasure of serving with some truly remarkable people in our profession. In my experience from working at the state level from New Hampshire to California, I know of no other profession who has so many brilliant, caring and committed leaders. So I will miss being around these great minds, working arm-in-arm with them, and seeing that powerful impact we can have on the future of naturopathic medicine when we roll our sleeves up and move towards our goals.

I know that I leave the Board in capable hands. It is an exciting time to be involved and to see our profession expand its reach, just as the Bastyr’s herb garden expanded its reach. But as the last minutes of the meeting rolled by, I found myself just a little bit glum that it will be my last one for some time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Future of the AANP

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

Fall has been a busy time for the AANP Board. After the dust settled from the convention and things relaxed for a bit, attention turned to identifying goals and priorities for the 2011-2012 work plan and budget.

Sounds exciting, huh? Actually, it’s some of the most important work that the AANP Board does. It requires that Board members think strategically, surveying the landscape for political and social trends, considering the future of healthcare reform, understanding readiness in states close to licensure, listening to feedback and the experience of our naturopathic physician members, and bringing that back to the table as we discuss and deliberate.

While the Board discusses these topics throughout the year, the formal start to our planning began at the August Board meeting. We examined programs that are currently underway and ranked programs such as marketing and public relations, state and federal affairs, fundraising, and others in order of importance to the ends and the goals of the AANP. The staff, led by Karen Howard, took this preliminary feedback and constructed the first draft of our next 2-year work plan and budget, getting further feedback from a Board survey that took a closer look at these initial ranking and programs.

This past weekend the Board held its Fall meeting on the beautiful campus of Bastyr University. Most of our time was spent discussing and debating the various details of the proposed 2011-2012 work plan. All of this, by the way, is done with keen attention to how to best serve our membership.

Let me give you some insights of the Board approved work plan.

Far and away the biggest priority is directed toward membership issues such as member benefits and professional success, programs such as the convention and membership services, and tools and resources for membership support including the AANP website.

State and Federal Affairs are a very big piece of the work plan. Facilitation of licensing in more states, inclusion in federal programs for the naturopathic profession under healthcare reform, engaging in strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations to effect change, and training our physicians and naturopathic students at the DC FLI – all are pieces in this very complex work.

Next, our Executive Director will take the work plan and assign budget categories to each area of emphasis for Board review and approval. This will be a very challenging step. While the AANP has weathered the economic downturn quite well compared with other associations, the economy has nonetheless impacted us. The budget will be very tight, and it will be a challenge to meet all of our goals. It is likely that choices will have to be made based on the key goals, priorities and programs we’ve identified.

I tell you all of this so you can understand some of the work that goes on behind the scenes and see why it is so important to be a member of your national association. The AANP is a member-driven organization that represents you in the halls of Congress and to the American people. It supports state licensing efforts and facilitates communication amongst various organizations within the naturopathic profession. It supports research and data collection to better inform others of our work. It provides top-notch continuing education with many of the thought leaders of our profession. It brings unity to our community of doctors and students in every state in the US and other countries.

Please join us as we move into the future by joining or renewing your AANP membership and letting your voice be heard.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alley Jelly and Modern Chemistry

By Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO

Photo by Rachel Tayes via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
There is a Hebrew prayer that expresses gratitude after tasting the first fruit of the season. This morning I am wondering whether there shouldn’t also be a prayer for the last taste of the season. I think this as I toss our last sprig of fresh basil into a pan of hot olive oil and the kitchen fills with the odor. The basil is in competition, though, with a pot of applesauce; I’d collected golden yellow apples that last night’s wind knocked off the tree around the corner. With the clock’s dropping back over just two weekends ago, there’s room in my morning schedule to make pack away a jar of applesauce before leaving for the office.

The weather here in Colorado collaborated to produce a bumper crop of fruit here in Denver. After watching cherries, apricots, plums and apples compost on the lawns of neighbors who have neglected to harvest their bounty, I’ve taken it upon myself to save what I can. Poppy also has taken advantage of the apples especially, and insists on eating a stomach full each day.

My wife Rena and I have been making grape jelly on weekends with some of the most flavor-filled Concord grapes I can even recall tasting. Thus the last few weekends have found me gathering the grapes hanging into an alley just off Montview Boulevard. This has led me to the grocery store, and to start experimenting with the new forms of pectin available. No doubt some reader will write to tell me that I shouldn’t use these modified pectins, but at this point, in my ignorance, they are very exciting. Traditional jelly-making required very high sugar concentrations to set. If I recall correctly, one heated the jelly ‘broth’ to about 220 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature at which the mixture was about 65% sugar. Without the high sugar concentration, the jelly wouldn’t set. It had to be sugar; the pectin wouldn’t jell if you tried substituting honey.

Times have changed and food chemists have developed pectins that don’t require added sugar and will still jell if sweetened with honey. This is why you can buy sugar free jelly and preserves in the grocery store. We made our first batch of grape jelly the old fashioned way, making juice from the grapes and cooking it down with what seemed an enormous amount of sugar. Our second batch is still setting, but we made it without adding any sugar. I’m quite looking forward to opening the jar for my first taste in a few weeks.

An excellent discussion of how to make no sugar jellies is available from the University of Tennessee’s Agriculture Extension Service:

This leads me to the point in this blog piece when I turn on my computer’s link to the National Library of Medicine and look up some current scientific data linked to whatever I am ruminating upon.

It so happens that there is a new paper looking at the effect of drinking Concord grape juice on blood pressure published a just over a week ago.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, almost within sight of Concord, the town where the grapes are originally from, conducted a placebo-controlled trial of grape juice in mildly hypertensive individuals. This was a double-blind cross over study. 64 otherwise healthy people participated and drank either grape juice or a placebo for two months, took a month off, and then switched beverages.

Although no statistically significant difference in average blood pressure was measured, several endpoints of interest did change during the grape juice portion of the study. Night-time blood pressures dropped 1.4% while drinking grape juice, while they increased 2.3% during the placebo phase. Blood sugar decreased 2 mg/dL while drinking grape juice, and increased 1 mg/dL during the placebo phase.i Interesting, but not fascinating.

These results are different from an earlier study from 2004. In this earlier study that was conducted in Korea, systolic blood pressure decreased an average of 7.2 mm Hg (p = 0.005) and diastolic blood pressure average by 6.2 mm Hg (p = 0.001) at the end of 8 weeks.ii In the new study. participants drank 7.5 ml /kg body weight, while in the older study, 5.5 ml/kg body weight was consumed.

Could the grape juice polyphenol content have varied, or could there be some genetic variant that differed between populations? It’s not clear.

Whatever the case with these studies, I remain enchanted with the idea of making sugarless jams and jellies, and look forward to next summer’s possibilities already. And as far as my pondering the lack of a prayer for the last of the season, well, it’s obvious that wiser ones than I understand that one never knows which taste will be our last so that all that we can mark is the first.
i Dohadwala MM, Hamburg NM, Holbrook M, Kim BH, Duess MA, Levit A, Titas M, Chung WB, et al. Effects of Concord grape juice on ambulatory blood pressure in prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1052-9.
ii Park YK, Kim JS, Kang MH. Concord grape juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in Korean hypertensive men: double-blind, placebo controlled intervention trial. Biofactors. 2004;22(1-4):145-7.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


By Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
AANP Past-President (2008-2009)

Photo by OakleyOriginals via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
I have a dear friend who is 71 years old and as spunky as they come. She is intensely inquisitive of everyone who has the good fortune of meeting her. With focused determination, in a matter of minutes, she can extract the most intimate details even from the most reticent person. At the same time, she has a constant twinkle in her eye and a belly laugh ready to erupt at any moment. She is entirely unreliable at making plans as something better is quite likely to come along and catch her attention.

Around a table filled with her friends, she loves to debate the deeper meaning of every movie that is showing within a 20 mile radius. At one of these dinner gatherings a few days ago, I asked her a question, “What do you most attribute your good health to?” Her response: “My good health is the most certainly the result of surviving all of my bad habits.” Perhaps she was referring to her daily evening bourbon cocktail. Perhaps she was referring to her disdain for structured exercise. She does have a few bad habits to be sure, but as the evening progressed, I wasn’t thinking of those.

I watched her listen to her friends with complete compassion, while gently and persistently pointing out the silver lining in every cloud that someone resolutely created and simply delighting in the joy of being with people she loves. I thought about her past, too, and the deep adversity and loss she has experienced. It dawned on me that the real secret to her health and vitality was resilience – her unceasing ability to rebound from all manner of disappointments and to emerge into a confident embrace of life within and around her.

Her resilience seeps into those around her as she constantly buoys them up, praises them, and revels in their unique brilliance. You just cannot help but to feel better about yourself when you are with her. She lives life with the expectation that we will swing at anything that life throws at us, that we will make contact with the ball, and that the point is to revel in wherever the ball flies. I smile as think of her now, likely snuggled into her bed, watching one of her favorite shows on TV, eager to fall asleep so that she can start her day tomorrow.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rediscovering the Value of Fats in Our Diets

By Susan DeLaney, ND, RN
2010 AANP President's Award Winner

Photo by @joefoodie via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
For most of the last 50-60 years, we have been under the influence of the “lipid hypothesis,” which translates into “saturated fats are bad,” that “cholesterol causes heart disease,” and that “to stay healthy one must eat low-fat or non-fat foods.” According to some food theories, any fat at all is bad for you and should be avoided at all costs.

I found this somewhat confusing as my grandparents grew up eating eggs and bacon with lard biscuits and butter. They worked hard and were rarely sick and lived healthy lives even as they aged. Looking at epidemiological evidence, it also seems that various groups of people living around the world consume even more saturated fats in their diets. Eskimos living in extreme cold areas consume approximately 80% of their calories from saturated fats, from marine mammals such as seal and whale meat and their fats, fish and fish eggs and their organ meats. The Masai, an African tribe, live almost exclusively on milk, meat and the blood of the cows they raise, with 80% of their diets consisting of saturated fats. Yet when scientists have examined the health of both of these groups of people living on their traditional diets, they remain free from heart disease, cancer, and the common infectious diseases.

The French present another problem, so much so that we call it the “French Paradox.” In the United States the death rate from heart disease is 315/100,000 and in France the death rate is 145/100,000. Somewhat confusing as the French eat so much butter, cheese, rich sauces and meat, all of the things we have been trained to avoid to prevent heart disease and maintain a healthy lifestyle. So we say “it must be the wine,” which does have beneficial effects but not enough to create such a difference in the death rates from cardiovascular disease. Looking more closely at the data, it turns out that in the region of Glascony, where people eat the highest levels of fats in their diets from duck and goose livers, the death rate from cardiovascular disease is 80/100,000. What’s up with that?: the highest fat in the diet with the lowest rate of heart disease! Bring on the wine, cheese and pâté!

What is now becoming evident to us is that real foods high in fats are essential to our health as they contain important fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins act more like signaling hormones acting in concert with one another, instructing the body to perform important functions within the cell. They are the primary drivers of every system in the body. Foods such as butter, eggs, cheese and milk from pasture-raised animals contain very high amounts of these important vitamins. Additionally fish and fish livers oils, organ meats, shellfish, the fats of pigs and birds, and even insects prized by certain cultures contain high levels of vitamins A and D. And what about Vitamin K2? Surprisingly, goose and duck livers are amongst the foods containing the vitamin at its highest levels. Other K2-rich sources include cheeses, egg yolks, butter and fatty meats—all those things the French love to eat!!

Science is now beginning to back up these observations with the fat-soluble vitamins, especially K2, which acts by conferring the physical ability for proteins to bind calcium, helping it find its proper placement in the bones rather than the arteries. K2 also offers protection from heart disease by regulating two important proteins involved in monitoring and clearing the plaque from the arteries. In the future it is likely that the lack of vtamin K2 will be considered one of the major contributing factors to heart disease.

As naturopathic physicians, we should take a more holistic approach by considering the combination of ALL of fat-soluble vitamins as they act together, talking to one another and influencing heart disease, not to mention the other systems in our body.

Vitamin D, an important fat soluble vitamin, has been in the news recently, with studies demonstrating that many are deficient. Such deficiency contributes to the increased risk of cancer, auto-immune disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, depression and many other health concerns. Were a lack of sunlight the primary culprit, one of the studies would not have shown that even in Hawaiians with exposure to sun 28 hours per week—a level most of us barely reach in a month—50% of them are vitamin D deficient!!

Why, you ask, is this so?

Our diets are lacking in the foods that are rich in Vitamin D, as well as the other fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K. Fully committed to the low fat diet, most people have limited and even eliminated healthy fat-containing foods from what they eat. Know for a fact that if you supplementing vitamin D, you are lacking in the other vitamins as well. Instead of more supplements, I recommend changing your diet to include healthy fats from animals raised on pasture land: butter, cheese, eggs and milk. Include fatty fish and shellfish from unpolluted waters and, like traditional people and the French, eat more organ meats and the fat from animals. Let real food be the foundation what your health, and enjoy it as well!!

For more information:

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Cream Rises to the Top

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

Photo courtesy of psdGraphics.
In my daily practice life as well as my "political" life as AANP President, I am always on the lookout for trends and conditions in my communities, both local and national, that have effects on my practice and my profession. I came across some news recently that caught my eye and has had me thinking about its ramifications.

Along with being licensed as a naturopathic doctor here in California, I have also carried an acupuncture license since 1989 and have been a long time member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) as well as my state acupuncture association. Recently, the AAAOM published a study of the acupuncture profession that found, among other things, that despite the prevalent use of acupuncture in the United States, the demonstrated cost-savings and effectiveness of acupuncture treatment, and the wide reimbursement by third party payers, many licensed acupuncturists are finding it hard to make ends meet.

In John Week's Integrator Blog, he quotes Lisa Rohleder, LAc and co-founder of the Community Acupuncture Network, who concludes that "Acupuncture education, and the conventional acupuncture business model, ought to come with a warning label, the way cigarettes do: NOT SUSTAINABLE. May take years of your life and leave you with nothing, except huge student loans."

In short, licensed acupuncturists graduate and get licensed, but then struggle for years to pay off student loans and get paid appropriately for their education and skills.  Many encounter barriers in third party reimbursement.  Many fail.

Sound familiar?

As naturopathic physicians, many of us feel that one of the reasons it is hard to make a decent living is that many people out there just don't know what an ND is. But is that truly the case? It seems to me that most if not all people know something about acupuncture -- what it looks like, what it's good for (at least pain, anyway). And yet acupuncturists are dealing with some of the same frustrations and challenges that affect the naturopathic profession.

As I said before, this has given me much to think about, and I've come to some conclusions.

First, the good news: we are not alone. If LAcs are struggling with these issues, you can bet that it's affecting other "CAM" providers. We tend to think we are unique, but maybe not so much.

Next, knowing that these challenges exist, we can and must do better on all levels. Our colleges have to do a better job at preparing our graduates to enter the healthcare marketplace. The AANP has to be more active at developing programs and resources for our member physicians in order to help them excel in the business of naturopathic medicine. Our state organizations must help build awareness of our profession and, together with the AANP, "brand" naturopathic medicine as a desired choice for patients. The AANP and the states must work together better to strengthen laws and policies that allow access to naturopathic care via state and federal programs and remove the unfair barriers to naturopathic physicians in federal and state health programs. For example, did you know that while the Department of Education recognizes ND educational programs as on par with MD and DO training, we are still effectively shut out of loan repayment programs for our ND graduates? If this is not unfair, I don't know what is.

Our graduates (you) have to take the individual initiative to learn the elements of successful practice and focus on the business of our medicine as well as its practice. There are pages devoted to practice growth and success on the AANP website.  Log-in and then visit select "Practice Resource Library" after clicking on "Practice Tools."  There are several courses taught by successful NDs that will help new graduates learn the tools to be successful.  The resources are out there and we must take the responsibility to use them.

When I graduated from Bastyr in 1984, there were few choices for people entering the profession. One could go into a solo practice, perhaps join a small group practice, teach at one of the schools, or maybe work for a supplement company. Now I'm amazed at the choices graduates have, and I am particularly excited to see the increasing opportunities in integrative medical settings for us to take our place alongside our "mainstream" colleagues. I, for one, think our profession could do much more to prepare our graduates to enter these new medical settings.

I can tell you that, both individually and collectively, we are up for these challenges. "The cream rises to the top," it's said, and naturopathic medicine is the gold standard for people seeking new choices and new directions for their healthcare.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcome to the Party

By Bill Benda, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

Photo by LS Lam via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
I spent this past weekend at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, where I teach a 50-hour emergency medicine course to students who must sit there and wonder, “Why am I learning this stuff?” But today’s rant is not about conventional vs. alternative or botanical vs. pharmaceutical, but about a more pervasive political movement apparently sweeping the country and, yes, our own little naturopathic family.

I often break up the classroom monotony of trauma and myocardial infarctions and wound closure with philosophical diversions – public policy, healthcare reform, influence of the neutraceutical industry on medical education, and such. But this past weekend we talked a bit about the Tea Party, and how its not just for mainstream politics anymore.

You see, this strange wave of populism that has taken us all by surprise is lapping at the shores of our particular profession as well as flooding the red and blue bastions of conservative and liberal thinking across the land. As an MD, I have limited interest in such important clinical ND issues as CPT codes and scope of practice – these simply do not impact my personal life. But I am fascinated by the internal politics of this field and the personalities that nudge and pull on the ship of naturopathic medicine like tugboats, each chugging towards its own desired destination. And what I see in today’s political horizon is our own little populist movement announcing unhappiness with the status quo and calling rather insistently for that nebulous yet ubiquitous concept of change.

What kind of change is, as with the rest of the country, still a bit nebulous and undefined, but we will let this detail work itself out over the ensuing months. The fact is that, as an AANP Board member for the past four years, I have been able to identify and get to know a few of the players and a few of the issues. The AANP, its Board, its executive director, the state associations, their Boards, their executive directors, the schools, their presidents, past AANP presidents, future AANP presidents, journalists (including myself), the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC), the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC), the Naturopathic Coordinating Council (NCC), the Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA) and on. And on. Tugboats pulling and pushing on the good ship Naturopathy. Stay the course. Change direction. Return to the past. Dive into the future. Toot toot.

Before any of the above mentioned begin to take this analogy a bit too personally, I wish to make one point quite clear: This is all a very, very good thing. Should we take a look at our national political system as a larger illustration, I believe we must come to the conclusion that no matter our individual views on the Tea Party movement and its leaders, we cannot but admit that our current political system has become mired in dysfunction and inertia, and it may well take an entity as disruptive as the Tea Party to shake some sense into us. In the same vein, I believe it is time for the profession of naturopathic medicine, at the national, state, academic, political, media, and individual levels to take a long, hard look at our own dysfunctions and inertia (We all have them! Yes we do!) and come to a communal course of, well, change. Naturopathy is no longer under the social and professional assault from that it was twenty years ago. Conventional medicine is no longer the ogre trying to eat our children (well, maybe the AMA might still be). We must put past thinking where it belongs – in the past.

So change is in the air, as it must be. But we must realize that change does not mean returning to past thinking, or past policies. It does, however, require transparency and openness on the part of those instigating change. Personal agendas have no place here, and will serve only to create further dysfunction and inertia. Unfortunately for me, I will no longer have a front row seat after December 31st, when my Board term expires.

But I’ll be watching from the sidelines nonetheless . . .

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Cleansing: Perfect Timing and Optimal Process

By Sara Thyr, ND

Have you heard that spring and fall are ideal times to do a cleanse? In the spring, new buds signal a time of growth, and people are inspired to do spring cleaning. In the fall, as the growth season winds to a close, a cleanse is an ideal way to prepare for winter, the holidays and hibernation.

A biannual detox is a welcome addition to one’s healthcare regimen.

If you are living on this planet, even under the best of circumstances, you are exposed to toxins. They are present in many situations, and we easily absorb them into our bodies. Toxins are prevalent in pollution, and in average automobile exhaust. Just driving your car or walking down the street can add to your toxic burden. Everything from our food and medications to our homes and personal care products, such as lotions and aftershave, can add toxins to our bodies.

People come to do a detox for a variety of reasons: hormonal symptoms – such as PMS or perimenopause, skin issues, fatigue, headaches, infertility, autoimmune disorders, elevated cholesterol, and a variety of inflammatory disorders. Once people are aware of the many toxins in our environment, even those who eat organic and keep their cleaning products as clean as possible often want to detoxify a couple of times per year as a good preventive strategy.

Organs in our bodies that assist us in detoxification on a daily basis include the liver, lungs, kidneys, digestive tract and skin.

Many of the over-the-counter detoxification kits include intestinal cathartics – even natural ones like senna and cascara – which can induce explosive bowel action, cramping and discomfort in many people. Having optimal digestive function is critical for proper elimination and detoxification, but this type of abrasive action is not recommended. (If someone is continually constipated, then they likely need a detox more than most people, since their detoxification action in the digestive tract is limited. They may benefit from cathartics, but should use them only in the short term. Constipation can be resolved by treating underlying causes, not just depending on laxatives.)

While all of the organs of detoxification are important for optimal health, focusing on the liver and assuring excellent elimination makes the most sense. The liver is really the powerhouse of detoxification in the body. Most medications have to pass through the liver in order to be eliminated. Our liver function affects our hormones and our ability to clear other toxins to which we are exposed.

An ideal plan for detoxification includes diet changes, such as eliminating alcohol and caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates and any known food allergens.

Supplements that may be helpful will provide nutrients and herbs for liver support and a fiber source to improve elimination.

Saunas, steams and massage will also aid in the body’s detoxification process.

The type of cleanse that is best for an individual will depend on one's symptoms and personal goals. A licensed naturopathic physician can tailor a plan to their specific needs.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Task: Loving Self-Expression

By Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
AANP Past-President

Photo by David 23 via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
It continually amazes me how easy it is to become completely ensnared with daily challenges in our lives. As we strive to create perfection in our work, our relationships, even our creative outlets, things can get tough.

Last week, after several busy days of work, I was running late one morning. I was irritated that I was late and, as can happen, my irritation distracted my attention from how I was carrying my coffee. I spilled it all over my pants on my way to the car. I had to head back into the house, figure out a whole new outfit, change into it, and then get back into the car. By then I was really late, plus I was missing my coffee. As I drove to work, it seemed that every slow and nonplussed driver was in the fast lane. My frustration started to rise, my expletives escaping my clenched teeth.

Then, suddenly, grace interceded. In a moment of clarity, I saw all this for what it was – just silly superficial things that had nothing to do with the true purpose of my day. I was able to smile, relax my grip on the steering wheel, and relax into the truth and beauty of the moment.

Later, upon reflecting on this change of heart, I recalled some words that my father once shared with me. These words were received by him from his spirit guide:

What is a new adventure for you is for us a continuation of the same learning problem. It is new for you because it is a different situation, in a different place, with different opportunities and constraints. These are the surface manifestations, but natural focal points for people with bodies, connected so intimately with the Earth. We, on the other hand, are deprived of your distractions. We cannot see those things. Thus they are of little concern to us. What matters from our limited, in its own way, point of view is the degree to which heartfelt feelings are expressed in loving ways, the degree to which those feelings are translated into actions that improve the Earth, the home of our children, and how much closer you come to us in spirit.

I find these words to be both soothing and admonishing. With life so precious and so alarmingly short, our ability to express ourselves in loving ways for the good of all is exactly the task at hand.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Final Convention Thoughts and Planning for the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

The next Board meeting will take place this November at Bastyr University in Washington.
It’s hard to believe it’s September already! After a very busy summer leading up to the AANP convention in Portland, it’s been nice to wind down and catch our breaths before moving into Fall.

For those of you who joined us in Portland, it was a fun and busy week. Great presentations, great food, great friends - our 25th convention/celebration met all of our goals as we looked back on what we’ve accomplished and look forward to our future. Some of the highlights spots for me were:

  • Hearing Dr. Jim Sensenig, our 1st AANP President, speak to our community at the banquet.
  • Learning from Dr. Steve Austin about nutrition updates.
  • Laughing with Jacob Schor, ND, and Rena Bloom, ND, in their Gelotology presentation.
  • Celebrating with a few hundred of my closest friends and colleagues.
  • Reflecting on our history with Dr. Jared Zeff and Dr. Joe Pizzorno.
  • Getting a glimpse of the big picture from Josephine Briggs, MD, Director of NCCAM.
There were many moments like these for all of us. As usual, I returned home reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to apply the lessons I learned in my practice.

Results of our elections were announced and I am pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Cronin as our next President-Elect and Dr. Joe Pizzorno, Dr. Holly Lucille, Dr. Keri Marshall, Dr. Cindy Breed, and Carrie Runde, ND (Cand.) as our new Board members. Their terms begin January 1, 2011. I am extremely impressed with the knowledge, professionalism and experience these doctors bring to the AANP Board, and look forward to working with all of them over the next few years.

As you know we had the first competitive elections for President-Elect in the AANP’s history and were fortunate to be able to choose between two well-qualified candidates, Dr. Michael Cronin and Dr. Tim Birdsall. I want to congratulate Mike for his campaign and election and will work closely with him as he takes on a greater leadership role, and I want to acknowledge and thank Tim for his service to the profession and his leadership over the years. We are fortunate to have these doctors representing naturopathic medicine and serving our profession in the many ways they do.

Our outgoing Board members Bill Benda, MD; Tabatha Parker, ND; Michelle Clark, ND; Sara Thyr, ND; and Lise Alschuler, ND, have given so much to the AANP and the naturopathic profession during their time on the Board, their accomplishments are too numerous to mention here. Dr. Benda is a bridge-builder who sees the big picture of where we need to move forward and reminds us of how to live this in our daily lives. He has truly been the soul of our Board. Dr. Parker reminds us of the global impact of our medicine and the opportunities we have to affect true healthcare change; she has been our visionary. Dr. Clark is our expert on state licensing and political trends; she has guided us in politics and policy. Dr. Thyr has organized and guided the educational offerings at our conventions and has thus served as our teacher. And finally, Dr. Lise Alschuler has been the heart of our Board. Through her term as President and all of the various roles she’s played, Lise has been steady, reliable, dedicated, and impassioned to see the naturopathic profession become a credible piece of the health care system. We have been so fortunate to have these people step up for naturopathic medicine. They will be sorely missed and we wish all of them well in their future endeavors. Please thank them for all of their hard work and dedication the next time you see them.

Now that the dust has settled, we get back to work. This Fall, the Board and staff will focus on the AANP work plan and budget for 2011-2012, evaluating and improving internal processes as we prepare for 2012. The work plan and budget are key areas where the Board and staff work together to plan for and prioritize our near-term goals. The Board sets the strategic vision and goals, emphasizing areas to focus our intention upon. The staff takes this input and translates it into action steps with budget allotments. There is much back-and-forth in this process, and it is some of the most important work we do in our annual planning process. Our next Board meeting will be at Bastyr campus on November 13-14th.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Comedy of Foxes

By Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO

Photo by Ciaran McGuiggan via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
Every so often a fox pokes his head from a storm sewer opening just a few blocks west of our home on the corner of Dahlia and 22nd Street. I doubt he lives there but instead suspect he uses the city's storm drains as an underground passage way, a fox-style subway system. Early one morning last winter, a good hour before dawn, I saw him emerge and trot down the sidewalk south toward Montview Boulevard. Rather, I should say, we saw him emerge as, our dog Poppy has generally been with me for these various sightings. Suffice to say that our usually mellow dog is now obsessed with this storm drain opening, and has to sniff at it every time we pass by on our morning and evening walks on the off chance that the fox might be there.

I am contemplating my dog's habit of 'looking for the fox' as I think about my own habit of late: talking to my patients about Hirojme Kimata’s study published last June. Something about the implications of this paper keep drawing my mind back to it for another sniff whenever the opportunity presents itself.

This particular paper is one in a series of studies that Kimata has conducted and published over the last year on the effects of watching humorous movies on health, typically on allergic sensitivity. He has shown that viewing humorous movies has beneficial effects on a wide range of physiologic reactions, ranging from asthma and eczema to testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction. This June’s study is the most intriguing one to date.

This study looked at the effect of watching humorous movies on the polyamine levels found in stool samples of 24 patients with atopic dermatitis. Polyamines are fermentation products of particular bacteria that live in the human gut. In general these chemicals are considered undesirable, actually carcinogenic and potentially toxic. This past summer, French researchers reported that lowering polyamine levels in men with advanced prostate cancer significantly slowed disease progression.

It has always been considered difficult to change polyamine production in the gut. To do so requires changing the ambient bacterial flora living in the intestines, a process that involves eradicating unwanted bacteria and then encouraging desirable bacteria to colonize the area. This takes time to make happen, periods of time measured in weeks and months... or at least that is what we thought.

Kimata reported that having the patients in his experiment watch a humorous movie for an hour a day for a week was enough to make significant changes in the intestinal bacterial flora of his subjects and significantly lower polyamine levels in their stools.

There may be some of our readers who do not appreciate just how significant this is. Just by changing the moods of these people for a few minutes a day was enough to change a significant risk factor, polyamine production, for cancer development and progression.

Our patients put so much effort into eating healthy diets and taking the right supplements and exercising with the appropriate frequency and intensity... and in the end the greatest influence may simply be their moods. A little laughter may have greater impact on their health than what they eat or take.

It's this thought that I keep coming back to for another sniff. If this is true, why do we put so much emphasis on eating right or swallowing the right pills? Well, because these things help. But maybe they don’t help nearly as much as having a good laugh.

Over the years we've watched cancer support groups come in and out of vogue. In some studies, they seem to be useful in prolonging survival statistics. In other studies, no benefit is measured. Could the variance in benefit have little to do with deep emotional processing, but simply the character of the various groups? Groups that encouraged good humor and in which members wasted meeting time telling jokes might have been the ones whose members benefited the most. Those groups that spent their time in serious and weighty discussions, whose members were too serious to crack a joke, could those be the groups that did little to prolong the lives of their members?

Or circling back again for another sniff at this study, could those people who we typically diagnose with dysbiosis simply have an undeveloped sense of humor? That if they were to laugh more often and harder, might find their gastrointestinal flora rebalanced and then find themselves cured?

Once one starts wondering about things like this, it's hard to stop. How much of our lives are spent in serious endeavors versus comedic interludes? It's hard to let these questions drop and get this blog thing written. It's like my dog. Once she gets a sniff of that fox, even if it's only a distant memory from last winter, she can't let go of the idea. Nor can I let go of this newest Kimata study.

It may be that something as simple and natural as laughter may be key to improving the health of many of our patients.

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Jun;22(6):724-8.

Modulation of fecal polyamines by viewing humorous films in patients with atopic dermatitis.

Kimata H.

Department of Allergy, Moriguchi-Keijinkai Hospital, Osaka Prefecture, Japan.


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Alteration of intestinal flora was involved in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis. Patients with atopic dermatitis were less colonized with Lactobacilli or Bifidobacterium, whereas they were more colonized with Staphylococcus aureus or Enterobacteria. Consequently, fecal levels of bacterial metabolite (polyamines) were reduced. In contrast, stress also induced intestinal mucosal dysfunction against bacteria and impaired intestinal barrier function. We studied the effect of relaxation by viewing humorous films on fecal flora and fecal levels of polyamines.

METHODS: Twenty-four healthy individuals and 24 patients with atopic dermatitis either viewed seven control nonhumorous films or seven humorous films sequentially for 7 days. Before and after viewing, feces were obtained, and fecal flora and fecal levels of polyamines were assessed.

RESULTS: Neither viewing humorous films nor viewing control nonhumorous films had any effect on healthy individuals. In contrast, viewing humorous films (i) increased colonization with lactobacilli and bifidobacterium, (ii) decreased colonization with S. aureus and Enterobacteria, and (iii) increased fecal levels of polyamines; whereas viewing control nonhumorous films failed to do so in patients with atopic dermatitis.

CONCLUSION: Viewing humorous films may modulate fecal levels of polyamines by restoring intestinal flora in atopic dermatitis.

PMID: 19543102

Monday, August 30, 2010

AANP's Greatest Hits, Volume 25

By Bill Benda, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
The pre-Gala reception at the AANP's 25th Anniversary Convention in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Daniel Atlas.
Well, time for another blog submission and mental search for inspiration and hopefully somewhat coherent dialogue. But this time I find the task quite easy, as I get to talk about a few of my favorite people in lieu of philosophy or politics.

This year’s Saturday AANP Gala in Portland was visibly different than those of prior years, notable for the recognition of both past presidents and past recipients of the Physician of the Year award – twice the stage was filled with these luminaries of naturopathic history. It is the organization’s 25th anniversary, after all. But time constraints also necessitated curtailing of the usual recognition of another batch of unsung heroes who have contributed immeasurable time and energy for the benefit of everyone reading this page – those AANP board members whose terms come to a close on December 31st. Given I did not get to stand and applaud for each at the Gala event, I’ve taken blog liberty to remedy this oversight. So without further ado, the envelopes please . . .

I’ll start with Lise Alschuler, as I get to save time by not having to list all of her quite visible achievements, challenges, and contributions as President-Elect, President, and Past-President of the AANP. What has been invisible and underappreciated by our membership is the fact that Lise carried this organization through its transition from what it was to what it is to become, much like a mother carries a pregnancy to term, and likely with the same feelings of unwieldiness and fatigue and “I’m ready to deliver this thing.” Carl Hangee-Bauer gets to birth this new baby, not a comfortable process in itself, but Lise was the lifeblood that ensured its healthy development in the womb.

Sara Thyr was shepherd to the flock of submissions, abstracts, speakers, scheduling, conflicts, and God knows what other machinations that are required to put on the annual conference each year. I personally have attended countless conferences of countless organizations over the years, and the AANP annual event has never had close competition as the premier event of the year, and Sara is the reason why. Plus she had the wisdom to move to the central coast of California.

Michelle Clark has been our Alliance chair and policy wonk, I believe, since she was born. For those of you who have engaged in the parallel universe of politics, her contributions will become clear once you contemplate the mishmash of licensed states and unlicensed states and state medical boards and legislative bodies and 15 different scopes of practice in 15 different jurisdictions and Boyd Landrys and health freedom movements all flavored with the occasional (OK, frequent) last minute disaster.

Which brings me to Tabby Parker, leaving the board after her first term to have her second child. As founder of Natural Doctors International, Tabby has chosen to spend her very lengthy days caring for the underserved on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua, all the while hosting endless teams of naturopathic physicians and students trekking down to learn and serve alongside her. Tabby has been, for me, the heart and conscience of our board, and she will be missed deeply.

I am leaving the board as well, and I can say it is with mixed longing and relief that these four years are coming to a close. I’m more than certain that all five of us share these contradictory feelings. But as those of you who attended the Gala did not have adequate opportunity to see these people stand in recognition and hold the eternal-flame-recognizing-our-past-and-welcoming-our-future-before-the-band-starts-candles, I ask you to take a moment to silently thank Lise and Sara and Michelle and Tabby. Or better yet, drop them a line and thank them personally. Your lives, and your patients’ lives, are better for their service.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Honoring the Past While Present in the Moment: The 2010 AANP 25th Anniversary Convention

By Karen Howard
AANP Executive Director

AANP President Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc, Executive Director Karen Howard and Board Member Bill Benda, MD, FACEP, FAAEM. Photo by Michele Hangee-Bauer.
AANP’s 25th Anniversary Celebration and Convention was everything we hoped it would be! Creative and collegial, celebratory and cerebral, composed and complete. Celebrating the Foundation of Naturopathic Medicine included the inspiration of Dr. Jared Zeff and the profound insight of Dr. Joe Pizzorno. Sandwiched in between, we were honored to hear from Dr. Josephine Briggs, Director of NCCAM. And I leave it to you, the doctors, to comment on the continuing education offered by your peers. They work hard to give you their best and enhance the care you provide to patients all over the country.  Click here to view and purchase photographs from this year's convention!

Honoring the past, while present in the moment, for the sake of generations to come – this is the heart of a naturopathic gathering with the force of the AANP Convention. Thank you to Dr. Jared Skowron and ITI for initiating our Legacy Program with the creating of a 22 minute video. It features our Past Presidents and Executive Directors, and it documents the history of the AANP’s 25 years with sincere reflection and humor.

Special recognition to our 2010 Awardees!

NDNR, Corporation of the Year, for giving voice to the entire naturopathic community in a publication known for excellence.

Dr. Susan DeLaney, recipient of The President’s Award, whose presence in her state work and her mentorship deeply reflects the principles of naturopathic medicine.

Dr. Steven Bailey, recipient of The VIS Award, our award created to honor the spirit of Dr. William Mitchell, for his work as teacher and his embodiment of The Vis Medicatrix Naturae.

Dr. Christine Girard, Physician of the Year, whose visionary work will continue to inspire for years to come, especially for the students to whom she dedicated her award.

The special moments at the convention are too numerous to document. But my special thanks to all our corporate partners who enable us to gather and support us throughout the year. Please know these companies hold your expertise and commitment to quality with the deepest respect. I offer my gratitude to The Foundations Project for their incredible timeline detailing naturopathic history. My thanks to those who took extra time to participate in the Naturopathic Coordinating Council Summit held prior to the start of the Convention. Thank you to the numerous volunteers who support the work of the AANP and all of the naturopathic agencies. For those of you who are unaware, meeting after meeting after meeting compete with continuing education every day of the convention. Our volunteers support the furtherance of our mission at the sacrifice of their individual needs.

We indeed face many challenges, and collectively we will boldly face them. The next 25 years offer much in the way of possibility. Let us step up to the challenges we face and recommit to this organization. The AANP is yours to own and cherish, so give it the support it needs to transform the world!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

AANP President’s Annual Meeting Message 2010

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

The Oregon Convention Center.  Photo by Matthew Santoro, AANP Communications and Media Associate.
The following are my remarks from the 2010 AANP Annual Meeting in Portland, OR, on Wednesday, August 11, 2010.

On behalf of the AANP Board of Directors, I am honored to welcome you to Portland and the AANP’s 25th Anniversary convention and thank you for your dedication to the naturopathic profession.

The AANP is a member-driven organization. There are many people whose work comes together under the banner of the AANP. We are fortunate to have a dedicated executive director in Karen Howard whose love for this profession runs deep as well as her dedicated staff who gets things done. The AANP Board of Directors works on a daily basis to understand the forces impacting our profession and develop strategies to be proactive and grow the legitimacy of naturopathic medicine. Everything the board does is filtered through the question: How does this benefit our membership? This House of Delegates comes together on an annual basis to amend our bylaws; adopt official Code of Ethics, definitions, standards, and position papers; hear reports from AANP officers and leadership; advise or recommend action to the Board of Directors by means of house resolutions; represent our constituents and communicate to them AANP information and actions; and provide leadership and participate as members in committees and taskforces. And you, our members, contribute in so many ways, from your volunteer work on both the state and national levels, educating the public and patients about naturopathic medicine, and, most importantly, providing your patients with the best care naturopathic medicine has to offer.

The Board of Directors has just completed two days of meetings where we took time to improve our internal communications, get updated on the business and challenges facing the association, and discuss our strategic vision to inform the 2011-2012 workplan. Some of the key areas of board interest include promotion of state licensing and increased scope of practice, sustaining and expanding our presence on the federal level, fostering naturopathic outcome studies and scientific affairs, developing strategic coalitions with other groups and associations, and developing programs and strategies to improve the success of our ND graduates.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Finding Opportunities in Discrete Challenges

By Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO

Photo by mdemon via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So while yesterday my partner and I spent a marvelous day on a coastal Maine beach and then enjoyed fish tacos, it makes sense that today I am holed up in my office whittling away at my to-do list. That does not mean that I am happy about it. In fact, I am rather grumpy about being in the office. I have tried to remind myself that, in reality, I should simply be grateful that I had the opportunity to spend time at a beach yesterday – so many cannot. I should also be happy that I have a to-do list and an office within which I can work on that list. Easier said than done. I am reminded of something that I read a while back. When one has a headache, instead of dwelling in the pain and discomfort, see it as an opportunity to be grateful for having a head in which to experience an ache, and to enlarge one’s focus to the entire head holding the ache.

Maybe then I too have an opportunity to focus on the day holding this grumpiness, not on the grumpiness itself. It does help actually. Suddenly my irritability becomes a small part of my big day, a day which is still mostly unwritten. As my grumpiness shrinks, I am reminded that the attitude with which I am approaching my tasks is simply that – an attitude. While it is true that by feeling grumpy, I can better understand and appreciate its opposite – happiness and gratitude – it is also true that I can change my attitude whenever I choose. While wallowing in negative emotions has a certain stickiness factor, it is not an insurmountable task to let these negative emotions go. Sometimes, to do this, I focus on the emotion (anger, irritability, etc.) and then take a deep breath, purse my lips and blow this anger/irritability/etc. out. Let it go, literally and figuratively. By now, after writing all of this, my grumpiness is truly a withered feeling in the past part of this day.

Funny how, now that I am feeling more contented, my day seems filled with many more possibilities. Maybe I can finish early and take a walk in the woods, spend some time on the back porch… Who knows? So in the end my grumpiness is held within my much bigger day, just as a headache happens in a much bigger head, and we are each so much bigger than our discrete challenges.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homeopathic Treatment of Psychiatric Conditions and Emotional Imbalances

By Christopher Johnson, ND

Photo by Eggybird via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
As a naturopathic physician I work regularly with patients who have emotional imbalances, sometimes as a chief complaint, and sometimes as simply one symptom amongst many. It seems that having some degree of anxiety and/or depression is simply a part of being human – most persons experience them at some point in their lives.

In practice, I have had significant success in treating clinical psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depressive disorders, ADHD/behavioral disorders, PTSD, bipolar affective disorder and panic disorder using homeopathy. Most patients who come to me for help with these conditions are using psychotropic medications, but are often able to discontinue or reduce the dosage of these meds (under the supervision of whoever prescribed them) once they experience improvement.

In addition to treating clinically diagnosable psychiatric conditions, homeopathy is also extremely effective at treating everyday anxieties, irritabilities, moods, etc. Literally every day I see patients who come back for their first follow up visit to tell me they feel less anxious, irritable, etc. This, even though many of these patients did not come to me for help with emotional issues and in some cases were not even aware the issues were present until they took the homeopathic remedy, became healthy, and realized how good it feels to be without emotional imbalances.

Not only do many patients tell me they feel less anxious or depressed, I actually expect it from every patient. If it is not so, I have not given them the correct homeopathic remedy and they are not truly healing. A healthy body is an emotionally calm and happy body.

Homeopathy restores health quickly, gently and usually in a permanent fashion by stimulating the body’s own healing capacity.

People are often amazed to see that emotional issues can be resolved without years of psychotherapy, yet this is common with homeopathic treatment. In other cases, patients who are undergoing psychotherapy and are intellectually aware of their issues but unable to resolve them often have rapid progress upon initiating homeopathic treatment. I have seen patients suffering from anxiety for 30 years have it resolved within weeks of homeopathic treatment.

The fact that homeopathic remedies affect the body in this manner is not trivial. Two recent major studies demonstrated that anxiety is a very significant risk factor for heart disease – as much or more than hypertension, elevated cholesterol, etc. An anxious or depressed body is one out of balance and at risk for all manner of diseases.

Unlike conventional medical treatments, homeopathy has no side effects and the positive effects are curative (to the extent the body is capable of healing) – meaning that treatment need only proceed for a finite time period, after which the patient no longer need use the homeopathic remedy to remain healthy. This was demonstrated in a 2008 study which followed 3,709 patients for 8 years. It found, “Patients who seek homeopathic treatment are likely to improve considerably. These effects maintain for as long as 8 years.”

The following is a sampling of trials demonstrating homeopathy’s effectiveness in treating psychiatric disorders:

In a 2009 randomized, double-blind trial at a Brazilian state medical school, homeopathy outperformed Fluoxetine (Prozac) on all measured parameters in treatment of moderate to severe depression.

A 2006 study of 1,783 patients receiving homeopathic treatment for a variety of complaints found, “Strongly positive outcomes… were achieved most notably in the frequently treated conditions of anxiety, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome.”

A 2005 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics found, “scientific evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy in the treatment of ADHD, particularly in the areas of behavioral and cognitive functions.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thoughts Ahead of the 2010 Convention and Elections

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President
The days of summer are filled as we approach our annual convention and elect our newest AANP leaders.

As I write this, the AANP convention in Portland is only 3 weeks away! All over the country and especially in Washington, D.C., preparations are underway to make this one of our best gatherings to date. As I’m sure you all know, this year we mark our 25th anniversary as an organization and we plan to celebrate in a big way as we look back at the accomplishments the AANP has made and, more importantly, look to the future and imagine what we can accomplish in the next 25 years.

In the days before the convention opens, leaders from the naturopathic profession will gather in Portland to focus on business and planning. The AANP Board has a two-day meeting planned including a one-day board retreat to focus on how to increase our effectiveness as a team. The House of Delegates will meet and consider a variety of topics including ethics and standards of care. The Naturopathic Coordinating Council, a summit of leaders from across our profession, will come together at NCNM to develop a strategic vision for the viability, sustainability, and success of the naturopathic medical profession in the context of global health and wellbeing. These are but a few of the meetings held in advance of the big event.

On Wednesday, August 11th, the fun begins as our tribe comes together for four days of education, reconnection, and celebration. The quality of the continuing education sessions is outstanding, with many of our favorite speakers and teachers presenting, including Dr. Steve Austin, Dr. Jared Zeff, Dr. Joe Pizzorno, Dr. Michael Traub, Dr. Lise Alschuler, Dr. Dickson Thom, and a host of others who are very popular with our convention attendees. Personally I’m really looking forward to Drs. Schor and Bloom’s session on gelotology and hope my busy schedule allows me to attend as many sessions as possible.

As great as our sessions are, the reconnections we make each year (seeing old friends and making new ones) and the alumni events and receptions are what reinvigorate and inspire me the most. We are a relatively small profession, which makes it possible to know many of our peers on a very personal level. The friendship and intimacy we have as a group is very special and becomes especially evident when we come together.

There will also be more time for fun with a family picnic planned for Friday afternoon and, of course, our gala awards banquet and dance on Saturday night. We have quite an evening planned, where we will honor our leaders and pioneers as well as look forward to the potential this profession has in improving the health of our patients, the nation, and the world. This is an event not to be missed! As the Beatles would say, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.” I hope to see you all there.

On July 24th, our voting opens for our next President-Elect as well as new board members. The AANP is a member-driven organization. We elect our leaders to represent our interests, and the officers and board members of the AANP consider this with every discussion and decision we make. We are here to serve you and to meet your needs as best we can, and your input into the elections process and your vote are crucially important in choosing our leaders and the direction the AANP takes.

I am very impressed by our list of candidates this year. All have demonstrated leadership and a desire to serve. We have two of our finest running for President-Elect: Dr. Tim Birdsall and Dr. Michael Cronin. Both have extensive leadership experience, are committed to the profession and the AANP, and have a clear vision as to how to move this profession forward. Please take the time to read the candidates statements and the responses to the weekly “Meet the Candidates” emails you’ve been receiving so you can choose who best fits your vision for the AANP.

And most importantly, VOTE. The voting is easy, will be online this year, and will close August 6th. Make your voice be heard!

I look forward to seeing you all in Portland at what promises to be a memorable event!